GAO Sustains Protest On Operation Of Navy Towed-Array Facility

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Oct. 16 sustained a protest by L3 Technologies' [LLL] Unidyne, Inc.,  unit on a Navy contract to Leidos [LDOS] to operate the service’s towed array facility, the office said last Wednesday.

L3 protested the issuance of a task order on the basis that the Navy misevaluated proposals, unreasonably failed to engage in discussions, and made an unreasonable source selection decision. GAO sustained the protest for several of L3’s reasons but denied some allegations.

GAO seal

The Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued to companies holding contracts under the service’s Seaport-E indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity multiple-award program to operate the facility for one year with two six-month option periods.

The GAO noted that the RFP said proposals would be evaluated considering both cost and non-cost factors, and that non-cost factors in combination “were significantly more important than cost” but if proposals are relatively equal on non-cost factors, then cost would become more important.

L3 argued the Navy acted improperly on several measures. This included failing to find Leidos unawardable due to binding arbitration agreements for employees which is not allowed here under defense appropriations statutes, identifying a deficiency in L3's proposal due to an employee being based outside the contract area despite no previous issue, not taking into consideration differing proposal levels of efforts for each solicitation task, and not properly considering offerors' proposed overall staffing profiles.

In its decision, the GAO noted that the protest challenging the Navy’s evaluation of proposals “is sustained where the record shows that the agency's evaluation was not consistent with the terms of the solicitation and applicable statutes and regulations.”

The GAO recommends the Navy determine whether the Leidos proposal violates the statutory prohibition on requiring employees to enter arbitration agreements as a condition of employment, reevaluate proposals given inadequacies identifies, and make a new source selection decision.

“To the extent the agency determines that a concern other than Leidos properly is in line for award, we recommend that the agency terminate the task order issued to Leidos for the convenience of the government and issue a task order to the firm determined to offer the best value to the government, if otherwise proper,” the report said.

The GAO also recommends that the Navy reimburse L3 for the costs associated with filing and pursuing the protest, including attorney’s fees.

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